One must have the other for either to make a difference or be of significant value. One must have the other in order for either to have or live into its purpose; to do what it was made for or to be who they were created to be. There is all the difference in the world between something being achieved and something being implemented.
A week ago, Jesus achieved his purpose - he did what he set out to do. He defeated death and began the work of new creation. We remembered and celebrated. All that he taught, stood for, revealed, upheld, lived and died for must now be implemented. There was and maybe still is however, a problem. The disciples are hiding! It may not feel like it, but it was just a week ago we remembered what it must have been like for those first followers of Jesus. What they went through that last week of Jesus’ life on earth.
They witnessed Jesus be arrested, convicted, flogged, killed, and put in a stone grave. They knew the bitterness of the religious leaders and pharisees who had been a part of the death of Jesus and they were afraid that their turn would come next. So they met in fear - in terror even, listening for every step on the stairs and every knock at the door, lest the representatives of the Sanhedrin should come to arrest them too.
They spent three days scattered, avoiding crowds, and trying to make it back to the last safe place they knew - the room where they last gathered with Jesus for a meal and his incredible act of humility and servant leadership. Jesus surprised them then and he was about to do it again.
It is as if Jesus is saying, my purpose began with me and my life, but can only continue with you so here, take the power, truth, wisdom, example, and presence of all that I am and take it with you. Remember it all. Remember all that you saw, heard, experienced, did, witnessed, took part in. Remember the faces of those you saw come to me. The sound of those who found their voice again because of what I taught. The touch of their hugs, handshakes, kisses as they were given hope again. Remember what I said, how I said it, and to whom I said it. Remember what I stand for, what I called you to stand for. Remember it all - when you are afraid. When you fail. When you succeed. When you get hurt. When they don’t listen. When you lose your way. When you rise and when you fall. When you get frustrated and when you weep with gratitude and humility. Remember.
This moment between Jesus and the disciples is their personal pentecost moment - powerful and empowering. The risen Christ comes to them in their most vulnerable moment and speaks to them words of comfort, assurance, and challenge.
Easter was but a week ago. We spent 40 days getting there. We spent a week walking the emotional roller-coaster with Jesus to the cross. Why would we be so quick to move on? To allow it to be swallowed up in the routine of daily life or to act like it is not a part of our reality. We are on this side of Easter therefore we are an Easter people. It is our reality.
Jesus comes to all of us in our upper rooms - those metaphorical places we go when we are hurting, confused, angry, questioning, and second guessing, and he says to us, peace be with you; I am here. I am your reality.
Now is the time we must remember, reimagine, and rebuild. Like the composer, the clockmaker, coach, artist, and teacher, everything Jesus was and is can only be if those who claim to believe in him, implement, enact, carry out, continue, and do what he started that first Easter morning - the creation of a New Kingdom - God’s Kingdom.
You are invited to consider what that means for you and for the people of God. What does it mean, really, to remember all that Jesus taught? What is the point if we don’t live it out in authentic and meaningful ways. What does it mean to reimagine church and community in light of following the risen Jesus? What difference would it make in the life of this church, this community? What would that reimagining look like? How can we rebuild following the kind of year and half we have had? What needs to be rebuilt? What does building on the cornerstone of Jesus bring about for us and for others that is good, beautiful, and true for all God’s people?
These are the questions (or some variation thereof) that the first followers faced. These are the questions that awaited them on the other side of the upper room door following Jesus’ resurrection. Like us after the year we have had; they were cautious and overwhelmed, AND like us, they were empowered by Jesus to open the door and greet the anxious, hurting, fractured, imperfect, and waiting world with a message of love. A message of hope.
Are you ready Easter people? Can we see Jesus in the room with us and remember? Will we creatively reimagine and with wisdom, courageously rebuild? I pray the breath of the risen Christ makes it so. Amen.
Prayer: Dear God, may we always remember the love poured out in the life of Jesus. May we have the insight to reimagine just how powerful and healing that love is. May we have the courage to rebuild your church on the cornerstone of that love.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine